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  • KORTC Board makes donation to UHMC water quality lab

The Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Charitable Trust has donated $40,000 to the University of Hawai‘i Maui College Water Quality Lab. The funding will be used to purchase a peristaltic pump for filtering seawater; a laboratory furnace for combustion of bottles; and general laboratory supplies for operations and analysis of nutrients, biological oxygen demand, E.coli and total suspended solids. It will also fund a student internship in the lab.

The lab – named Pūko‘a hina‘ole in Hawaiian – is run by Dr. Andrea Kealoha. Born and raised in Pā‘ia and a graduate of King Kekaulike High School, she holds a BS in Global Environmental Science from UH Mānoa, an MS in Marine Science from Hawai‘i Pacific University, and a PhD in Oceanography from Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on climate change and other human stressors to coral reef ecosystems.

She happened to be in the right place at the right time to conduct research during the pandemic. That place is Kahekili Beach Park, site of the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility injection wells. Given the wastewater infrastructure improvements and the dramatic reduction in tourism, Kealoha had an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the potential positive impacts of improved water quality on coral reef health and resilience at the beach park – which fronts the Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort.

The Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Charitable Trust is invested in preserving the health of their local reef and supports efforts in this area from mauka to makai. “When we found out that Andrea’s work was happening literally in our backyard, we were eager to participate and get our homeowners involved,” says Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort General Manager Ryan Nobriga.

Kealoha also believes “this is a great opportunity to involve the homeowners, and especially their children, in learning to care for our ocean.”

Established in 2020, Pūko‘a hina‘ole is Maui’s only water lab despite the many rules and regulations requiring many farms, businesses, and other operations to regularly test the quality of their water. Prior to that time, samples had to be flown to Honolulu, often on ice and within hours of collection.

Dr. Andrea Kealoha

Dr. Andrea Kealoha photo courtesy of UH Maui College

Questions? / More Information

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808-376-7800 or send us a message.

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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.